But as one user speculates, the Gamergate-like reactions were exacerbated by Slant Magazine’s comparatively low score for the game, rather than just the review itself. A commenter named “LippDogg” wrote: “Seriously, if you read the review and didn’t see a score there would be about 10-20 fairly mundane comments here, not 600+ of hateful bile.” It’s also not unusual for pushback of reviews to come from those who haven’t necessarily played the game yet. Scaife said this is likely because some believe the “game merits a higher score because they can plainly see that a ton of time, money, and effort went into it.” That effort itself, however, is not without controversy: RDR2’s developers reportedly worked 100-hour weeks during the period known as “crunch,” the lead-up to the game’s launch when employees must work unreasonable hours to finish and polish the game in time. 

The contrast of Slant Magazine’s yellow 70 on Metacritic against all the other green scores, more than half of which are perfect 100s, also makes it seem especially contrarian (the threshold for yellow/green is 75). “I think collecting different reviews in one place is extremely useful, but I also think it feeds this mentality that everything needs to be in agreement rather than allowing for other perspectives,” Scaife said.

Some gaming sites agree: Numerical ratings are helpful but can also be reductive, and publications like Kotaku and Eurogamer have long stopped giving review scores because of this reason. When Eurogamer announced this change in 2015, it also noted that Metacritic’s scores can cause “a stifling of variety in critical voices.” This issue has also been discussed in respect to aggregator review sites for other industries, such as Rotten Tomatoes, for its lack of diversity in its critics.

RDR2 still has an overall score on Metacritic of 97 and it doesn’t seem like Slant Magazine’s review affected the game’s ability to become a massive success so far. (Rockstar Games, RDR2’s developers, did not immediately respond to requests to comment.) What the heated debate around Scaife’s rating has highlighted, however, is that dissenting ratings can open up old wounds and spark discussion about much more than the game where you pretend to be a cowboy

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